Universal access to medical care is fundamental to building a healthy socialist society. Medical expertise, medical institutions, and medical research are part of Australia’s social aspirations for a physically and psychologically robust community, and are not as capitalism would have them, mechanisms for generating profits. A nationalised health scheme providing a quality primary care system with GPs, nurses, allied and community health working together must become our frontline for maintaining people’s well-being with emphasis on preventing disease, including early detection of illness.
The privatisation of Australia’s health system is socially iniquitous, it leads to the wasteful private health insurance rebate which is driving further privatisation of Australia’s health system, and which will lead ultimately to the rationing of health care for those who need it but cannot afford it and the means-testing of public hospitals.
Our public hospitals are under extreme pressure. The CPA rejects the monetisation of the system and stands for a health care system that first and foremost meets the needs of working class Australians and other marginalised and disadvantaged groups – especially Indigenous Australians – in their local communities, local health clinics and local hospitals. We strongly oppose the introduction of a co-payment or means testing of access to Medicare or public hospital treatment.
A planned expansion and development of the health system has the potential to create more jobs in the research, administration and service areas.
The CPA advocates:
- A nationalised health system under local control, with high quality and “free” at point of delivery care, according to need rather than the ability to pay.
- Accessible quality medical and dental treatment for all Australians, bulkbilled under Medicare, centrally funded through progressive forms of taxation and focused on the needs of working Australians and their families, the elderly and the sick.
- Team based care focused on early intervention and providing care in the community and in the home.
- Priority emphasis on preventative medical services including campaigns by governments to educate people about healthy lifestyles, the importance of vaccinations, regular tests and check-ups. Preventive medicine should also encompass restrictions on corporate advertising and on the production and sale of unhealthy products.
- An expanded Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) so that all effective medications remain affordable for all Australians. PBS scripts should be free for all unemployed, pensioners and other card holders, and the cost for others reduced. This must include the Pacific regionthat benefits from the lower costs of medications as a result of the high purchasing power of the PBS.
- The public control of pharmaceuticals, diagnostics and medical supplies along with the employment of salaried staff specialists, and public hospitals.
- The development of a publicly owned pharmaceutical manufacturing industry so that Australia has some independence from shortages in overseas supply, and during critical moments such as major pandemics. Australia should withdraw from agreements that prohibit such production and not sign new ones; in particular the TPPII.
- The improvement of the public system in outer suburban, rural and remote areas with measures put in place to ensure the health system caters first and foremost for working families and the sick and the elderly in these communities.
- Strong health and safety rules in the workplace to prevent worker injury.
- The support of a system of generous workers’ compensation benefits for all injured workers and their families.
- The retirement age for those on shift work to be set at five years before the rest of the workforce due to increased aging effects of their work patterns on the body.
- The opportunity for workers and local communities to have a say on where their health facilities are placed and how they are managed, including having a voice on local hospital boards.
- The urgent expansion of the provision of mental health services.
- Funding increases for people with disability should be brought forward, and services provided by the public sector.